Throughout Thailand, gender inequality contributes to Thai youth displaying an inaccurate sense of self-worth, capabilities, and potential. Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) around Thailand have attempted to curb these disadvantages by developing camps and clubs that focus on addressing gender barriers and developing leadership skills. These activities include both girls and boys, recognizing that all youth have an important role in promoting gender equality in their communities.
Youth from PCV host communities in Southern Thailand will be invited to attend a three-day camp in Satun province, focused on giving all youth the tools required to become a leader. The camp will focus on fostering an environment of mutual respect and understanding, empowering youth through activities focused on self-esteem, leadership, goal setting and healthy relationships. Following the camp, each host community will be asked to build upon the lessons learned throughout the camp, this may result in a leadership club or other youth group.
Youth participants will be accompanied by their PCV in addition to a host country counterpart, such as a teacher or a youth group leader. With the help of the PCV and Thai counterparts, youth will be motivated and prepared to begin their own clubs when they return home to their schools, allowing youth to foster positive change in their communities.
This camp will be the culmination of over a years work between community group, six schools, and the PCV. The community group expressed concern with local youths’ demonstrated lack of self-confidence and further youths’ limited access to leadership opportunities. Therefore, over the course of the past year, the community group and the PCV have worked to create the Junior and Senior Youth Councils, which are each intended to provide more youth with leadership opportunities. The Senior Youth Council is comprised of 20 Mattayom students and the Junior Youth Council is comprised of approximately 30 Brathom 5 and 6 students. During the camp, the Senior Youth Council will assume leadership positions, allowing these students to utilize the skills that we have been developing over the past year. The senior Youth Council members will facilitate activities and co-facilitate leadership and gender-related sessions with the support of Thai counterparts and PCVs. Further, prior to the camp, teachers from each of the 5 schools in the subdistrict will attend a training to prepare for facilitating life skills activities and to begin outlining plans for hosting a club at each school following the camp. Additionally, teachers from all five of the subdistrict’s Primary schools will attend the camp and support the students as they create their plans to sustain the camps impact upon returning home.
Additional communities will be sending a local Thai counterpart to the camp in addition to the PCV and youth. The teacher or staff member must therefore be excused from his or her daily responsibilities during the duration of the camp, and by doing so the community acknowledges the value of the camp. Additionally, prior to attending the camp, each community will pledge to starting clubs in their schools, further demonstrating their commitment to the camp’s objectives and promoting the importance of gender equality and all youth’s capacity to become leaders.
With the support of PCVs and Thai counterparts, students will return to their schools with a carefully thought-out plan to continue to enrich the lessons and ideas addressed during the camp. These plans may manifest in the form of a club or youth group, ensuring that the benefits of the camp have an ongoing influence on the attendee’s communities in addition to impacting their individual lives in a lasting way. Additionally, attending schools will be encouraged to work towards hosting a gender and leadership camp next year and invite the next group of PCVs, counterparts and students to continue moving the project forward sustainably.